Oscar Pistorius: Bail Hearing, Day 2

The bail hearing for Oscar Pistorius resumes at 9:00 am South Africa Time. (Midnight, MT). (Updates will be at the top instead of the bottom.) The journalists I am following today on Twitter who are the source of my updates: @BarryBateman (Eyewitness News);@BBCAndrewH; David Smith (The Guardian); @AlexCrawford (Sky News); @KarenMaughan (legal journalist).

Final Update 12:45 pm SAT: Court breaks for lunch unitl 1:30 pm. "We're in terrible trouble" a junior prosecution official says when leaving court. [More...]

Terrific cross-examination by defense attorney Roux. Even Oscar stopped crying by the end. Piece by piece he disassembled the state's case, made the investigator look incompetent, careless, foolish or biased. Could it change after lunch? Maybe, but I'm going to bed.

Update 12:15 pm SAT: Defense attorney Roux cross-examines Investigator Botha. Among the points made:

Botha agrees that the autopsy showed no signs of assault or any signs of Reeva defending herself against assault .

The autopsy showed Reeva's bladder was empty when died, consistent with Oscar's account that she got up to go to toilet. Botha agrees with this. Botha admits he would have locked toilet door too if he was in Reeva's position having heard Oscar shouting to call police.

The witness who heard shots got the number of shots, timing and placement wrong. Botha says the witness heard "two to three" shots, saw lights on, then 17 minutes later heard "two to three" more shots.

Botha never asked Oscar or his brother if they had other cell phones.

Roux says there is a call to Netcare (paramedics) at 3:30 a.m. Botha admits police failed to call Netcare to check whether they were called. Oscar called the security guard at 3:20 a.m. and the guard heard him crying after he forgot to put phone down.

Botha admits that the witness who heard screaming lived 600 M away. There are audible gasps from those in the gallery. And laughter, the Magistrate calls for silence.

Boutha admits he's found nothing to contradict Oscar's affidavit that he and Reeva were in love. He found nothing at the crime scene to contradict Oscar's version of the shooting or version of events.

The testosterone was testocomposutim co-enzyme, which is herbal, not a steroid, and not a banned substance. Botha admits he didn't read the full name on the label.

Multiple reporters are tweeting Botha is coming unglued, looking like a Keystone cop. He's stuttering. One says it's like watching a baby seal get clubbed. Oscar begins heaving and sobbing and the Magistrate asks Roux to ease up on the cop.

Lawyer Roux says instead of verifying information, Botha introduced untested evidence. Roux says, "It seems that an approach was adopted to discard anything that could have been consistent with a defence."

Here's a photo of the floor plan of the house introduced in court.

Update 12:00 pm SAT: Botha is done talking about the house. He moves on to: prior bad acts (Why are these admissible?)

They have a statement from former soccer player Mark Batchelor that Oscar threatened to break his legs.

Botha says Oscar threatened a man at the racetrack "over a girl" and said he would "f... him up." The man was so scared he consulted a lawyer.

Botha says police found two bottles of testosterone, needles and injections in a cabinet in Oscar's bedroom. (They were neither steroids nor a banned substance."

Botha brings up the accidental discharge of a friend's firearm in the restaurant and says Oscar was afraid of bad publicity so he asked the friend to "take the rap" for him. (In a news interview, the restaurant owner said the incident was never reported. The friend told the media the weapon was his and Oscar was looking at it and it caught on his pants and discharged.)

Oscar told them he had been the victim of violent crime but Botha says Oscar never filed any reports to that effect.

Update 11:25 am SAT: Court has resumed. The photographers were let back in and started snapping pix of Oscar when he entered the courtroom, and he began crying again. Pictures of the house are shown on the projector as the prosecutor asks Investigator Botha to describe what is being depicted.

Botha thinks bullets were fired "down" and through top part of door "suggesting Oscar had prosthetic legs on." But another reporter says the police don't have the ballistic reports back yet so this may be speculation.

To get to the bathroom from the balcony, you have to go past the bed. There were two dogs -- a terrier and a pit bull -- in Oscar's backyard. The window leading from the toilet looks onto the backyard where the dogs were. Pistorius said while on the balcony he heard a noise coming from the toilet, so he ran through the bedroom where he thought Reeva was asleep.

The prosecutor asks Botha about the size of the window in the toilet (too small to escape through.)

The cricket bat was found in front of the first basin.

Botha says according to the police preliminary investigation, the shooter would have to be inside the bathroom with his back to the basins. (Haven't they progressed past a preliminary investigation yet? Apparently not, there's been no testimony about forensic tests.)

The holster for the 9mm gun was on the same side of the bed as Reeva's slippers. He's suggesting that Oscar got the gun from her side of the bed. reached over her side of the bed to get the gun. He says, "If I had heard a noise, as Pistorius claims, "I would have tried to find where my girlfriend was".

Botha says police have a witness who claims he heard shots, checked and saw lights on at the house and then heard screams and more shots. (Apparently he went back to bed and did not call police.) This suggests to police Oscar was not telling the truth when he said he shot in the dark. Another witness heard arguing between 2 and 3 a.m.

Botha also says "I believe he knew she was in the bathroom when he fired four shots through the door."

Update: 10:50 am SAT: The judge wants to see diagrams of the house and bathroom in particular to get a better sense of what happened. The defense says it has the official plans. Court has taken a 30 minute break so the diagrams can be viewed via the projector.

While we're waiting, you can take a look at two pictures of the bathroom published the other day by The Sun, here and here.

Update 10:25 am SAT: The state calls investigator Hilton Botha as its first witness. Botha, who has been a cop for 24 years, says he arrived at 4:15 am and victim was dressed in shorts and covered in towels.

Botha is asked why he thinks Oscar is a flight risk. He has a house in Italy and there was a USB drive in his kitchen safe with details of off-shore accounts. (Apparently, he didn't disclose the accounts in his interview with police.) It's a very serious crime carrying 15 years to life in prison.

Botha says Oscar will also face charges for having unlicensed ammunition. There was a box of .38 caliber ammunition in his bedroom safe and he doesn't have a license. Botha says he went into the bathroom and the toilet door was lying broken inside the cubicle. The gun was lying on a bathmat.

Botha says police found two iPhones in the bathroom and two blackberrys in the bedroom. They checked and found no calls were made that morning, to ambulance or police.

Four shots were fired, aimed at the toilet basin (not the bowl.) Botha says to obtain the trajectory which created the holes, you'd have to be 1.5m from the door. (No testimony yet about the height they were fired from.)

Botha says Reeva was shot on right side of head, in the right hip and the right elbow.

Botha says the cricket bat could have been used to break door down, but police think it was used to injure the victim. There has been no mention of blood on cricket bat or a crushed skull.

Oscar is sobbing.

Update 10:10 am SAT: Finally, court is going to begin (delay was trying to set up video in overflow room. They will proceed without it.) Magistrate Nair says the first thing to be addressed will be the defense request from yesterday for more information.

The Defense says it's satisfied with the information the prosecution provided.

The Prosecutor says Reeva was shot in her side and this is relevant to premeditation. He also mentions someone hearing what sounded like an argument between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.

Update 9:20 am SAT: Hearing delayed, the TV monitor for the overflow room went to the wrong court. The media is like vultures, here they are inside the courtroom. (The photographers will have to leave once proceedings begin.) Oscar's lawyer tells BBC's Andrew Harding things went well yesterday. Today is expected to be tougher (not clear if lawyers or Andrew thinks that.)

It's expected to be an evidentiary hearing, with testimony from the lead investigator, Hilton Botha (photo here.). No word yet if the defense expert Reggie Perumal, who was present in court yesterday, will testify. It seems that he will since the defense is holding onto house plans. We can expect to learn about " the layout of the rooms including the bedroom, bathroom and toilet, and balcony.

Here is an explanation of the law on bail in South Africa.

The Guardian is reporting live here. The Telegraph is updating its webpage every 90 seconds. South Africa's News 24 live page is here. Here's my recap from yesterday's hearing.

The journalists were lined up early. Then it became a madhouse like yesterday. One journalist collapsed while waiting. (It was Karen Maughan, but she's fine now and tweeting away.) Journalists are even sitting on the floor of the courtroom. Oscar Pistorius has arrived, as has his legal team. The overflow room for the media with video screens is being set up.

Already there is disagreement: One reporter says Oscar arrived and entered the front of the courthouse while another says it was the rear of the courthouse. Is this the front or the back? According to the AP, he entered through a side entrance. The obvious: Take what you read with a grain of salt.

To get a sense of the media presence, here's a photo of them a few minutes ago being briefed by a court official.

Here's a bigger photo of the Brooklyn Police station where Oscar has been held.

Here is a photo of Oscar's sister, brother and father sitting in court waiting for proceedings to begin.

Updates once proceedings begin will be at the top.

< Tuesday Night Open Thread | Oscar Pistorius: Day 2 Wrap-Up and Bail Prediction >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Before I head to bed (none / 0) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:28:04 AM EST
    accidental shootings are almost always from mishandling a gun, hunting accidents and ricocheting projectiles. (Google if you must, I'm too tired to link. And, no, blindly putting 3 (4?) shots into someone behind a closed door because you didn't see that person and don't know that that person is your girl friend does not qualify as mishandling a gun.)

    Very, very few are from an honest mistaking of your significant other, especially a female, and in this case a very successful international model, for a home invasion burgler or kidnap/ransomer or some other nefarious middle of the night stranger.

    That said, I'm looking forward to the AM and the rest of OP's testimony. I truly hope he didn't intentionally shoot his lover.

    What's the significance? (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Yman on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:44:02 AM EST
    Whether you classify OP's use of the gun as a "mishandling" or "misidentification" problem, it's still (assuming his explanation is true) another form of accidental shooting (although every firearms class will strongly emphasize the need to be absolutely certain about your target before you aim, let alone fire a gun).  

    Are you suggesting his story is less credible because these types of shootings occur less frequently than other types of accidental shootings?


    accedintal, not (none / 0) (#7)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:43:53 PM EST

    It is in no way an accidental shooting.  He aimed, and fired multiple times at what he believed to be another human being on the other side of a door.  He was right, there was another human there.  

    They need to convict this clown.  Even if his story is 100% true, he is too recklessness to be safely allowed near the public.


    "Accidental" (none / 0) (#9)
    by Yman on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:15:47 PM EST
    He was mistaken in his belief (according to his own story) that there was an intruder in his house and shot without knowing what he was shooting at.  The act of firing the gun was intentional, but the result was based on his mistake about who he was shooting at and the result was (according to him) unintentional - i.e. an "accident".

    He probably should be convicted of something, but the question is what type of offense.  OTOH - these kind of accidental/mistaken shootings happen all the time.

    Whether you call it an "accidental" or "mistaken" shooting, what's the relevance to this case?


    I would not say "accidental" (none / 0) (#20)
    by Trickster on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:47:49 PM EST
    Whatever he thought about the identity of the person behind the door, he admits firing multiple shots through a door at an unidentified person who was not attacking him. This was an intentional act, not an accident, and presumably the distinction is very significant for the case. I'm not a criminal attorney, but I'm pretty sure this would get you some kind of murder rap in the U.S.

    Well, the significance to me, anyway, (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:41:59 PM EST
    is how the words are often understood to mean in a broad context.

    imo, if a shooting is described as 'accidental,' as is often the case when a shooting is the result of a gun that is mishandled, for example: "I dropped the gun and it went off," that carries a sense that the shooter is less at fault, morally, perhaps, than if the shooting is described as the result of a guy claiming he 'misidentified' his girlfriend for a burglar and put 3 or 4 rounds into her in their bathroom.



    I would tend to (none / 0) (#23)
    by Zorba on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:56:13 PM EST
    agree with you on this one, sarc.  I would characterize an "accidental" shooting as something like a hunting accident.  Although if you're hunting, you better d@mned well clearly know what you are shooting at, and I'm not sure I would call that an "accident," either, because you are deliberately shooting at something.  Maybe call that malfeasance?  Negligence?  
    If you drop a gun without a safety and it goes off, or you are cleaning a gun while it's loaded and it goes off, or you get tangled up in barbed wire while hunting and your gun goes off- those are clearly accidents.  (I am using the general "you" here, sarc; not meaning to imply that you, personally, would do any of these things!)
    He deliberately shot at someone.  He says he thought it was an intruder.  That's not an "accident"- he meant to shoot.  Maybe there should be another word for this.  Negligent homicide?

    Maybe (none / 0) (#27)
    by Yman on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:26:13 PM EST
    Although there are lots of different types of firearms "accidents" (i.e. firing a gun unintentionally, ricocheted shot, Dick Cheney pheasant hunting, etc.).

    Not sure about SA law, but it usually boils down to a matter of intent and whether mistake provides some type of defense under SA law and the facts of the case.  Were his actions intentional, reckless, negligent, etc.  I'd call it an "accidental shooting" in that he thought (according to him) that he was shooting at something/someone he was not - an intruder.  Based on the facts shown so far, IMO his actions seem (at the very least) wantonly reckless.  But other facts may yet come to light.

    In any case, I'm still not sure how the relatively low number of these types of shootings (as compared to other types of shootings - hunting accidents, mishandling guns, etc.) is relevant.


    And, Yman and I agree... (none / 0) (#36)
    by bmaz on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:27:51 PM EST
    I think that is so far, at least, (I still am not really comfortable there is a decent fact set to work off of yet, and await a better one) that as far as South African law comports at all with general American common law (another fairly dubious assumption without better research), that Pistorius may have a legitimate problem with negligent homicide or reckless manslaughter, but the state has a real issue with premeditated 1st degree. It seems to be (shocking!) a mch more nuanced and different fact base than the breathless international press gloms on to.

    Or, maybe given how brutal the landscape is in that locale as to wanton and violent crime, maybe he has a solid mistake in self defense case. Just too hard to tell this early.

    I will say this, the defense as reported by Jeralyn's tick tock, is chewing up major ground on the state in cross of the investigator. If that continues, hard to see how he does not at least get bail, which is the only real current issue


    I'm Confused (none / 0) (#3)
    by RickyJim on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:26:00 AM EST
    I've tried to compare the linked floor plan with the affidavit with no luck.  There are two bathrooms, both of which can be entered from the bedroom?  In any case, I don't see how OP could have seen what he claimed about the open window and locked toilet in the bathroom.  The fact that the window was too small to get through means an in intruder couldn't get in that way.  I am wondering why the bedroom door was locked.  Was it to prevent somebody from getting in or out?  Will Oscar take the stand?

    oscar stopped crying by the end (none / 0) (#4)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:59:09 AM EST
    that's telling, IMO, and in a quite disturbing way.

    interesting and disturbing. you cry because you are sad she is dead, and you don't stop because your lawyer is doing a good job. that is just emotionally very bizarre.

    But hey, if his lawyers can win the day, it won't matter. And they seem to be kicking butt today, so...

    I guess more details will come out (none / 0) (#5)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:03:52 PM EST
    But when I read his statement, and look at the floor plan Jeralyn posted... I'm still wondering about a couple of things...if OP was on the balacony, closed the sliding doors, then heard noises in the bathroom he thought might be an intruder...
    It appears that he has to go to, and then past the bed, both to get his gun and to reach the bathroom...looking at floor plan, the bedroom door/escape route seems closest at this point...yet he chose to confront/attack the supposed intruder, rather than simply try to unlock the door and escape?

    Dunno.  Also feels implausible he'd not check for Reeva, after getting the gun from under the bed and moving past it to the bathroom...not like she was in some other place in the house. She should have been inches or feet away.

    Anyway - when I put myself in the situation, my first thought would be escape. Not seek out confrontation. Just IMO...And a close second thought would be to verify that it's not simply my spouse in the damn bathroom.  Said spouse should be a simple arm's length away.

    The closest experience I've had was waking up in the night to noises at the front door. The only thought I had was whether I could safely get out my bedroom window.

    I can understand confrontation and not flight (none / 0) (#6)
    by leftwig on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:39:04 PM EST
    being the choice for someone with stumps for legs.  I have a very difficult time understanding why his first thought would be that it was an intruder given the size of the open window in the bathroom (assuming reports that it was too small to be used as an escape route) and the revelation from OP that the bedroom door was locked.  Also, being that he was right next to his bed to get his gun and pass into the bathroom why he would not have bothered to wake his sleeping GF to alert her of danger.  I can understand not thinking logically in a stressful situation, but then don't write in your affidavit that your actions were dictated by a desire to protect your GF.

    There are still a lot of unknowns like what witnesses will actually testify to and the forensics reports on the shots.  If they aren't damaging to OP's story, then I think that even though I don't find his story likely, I think its enough to raise reasonable doubt.  I still think he'd be in trouble on a lesser charge or a wrongful death law suit as his reckless actions were the direct cause in the death of another.


    Yup. For me, so far, I still cannot believe (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:13:30 PM EST
    that he would not make sure that the unknown person in the toilet next to his bedroom was not the girl he was sharing his bed with, before he started blindly shooting through a closed door.

    That said, there is more testimony to come tomorrow.


    I think the windows (none / 0) (#10)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:24:08 PM EST
    Are a source of confusion.
    There appears a fairly large window in the main bathroom area...which OP would see as he comes into the bathroom (which appears "not" to have a door, merely a little alcove type area.

    This may be what he's referring to. Not sure....

    The bathroom in the enclosed toilet area does appear quite small.  Given that door was closed, no way could OP tell if it was open or closed.

    Until he'd shot through the door and busted it open with the cricket bat, that is.


    oops - (none / 0) (#11)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:25:31 PM EST
    The "window" in the enclosed toilet area appears quite small....

    At least defense... (none / 0) (#13)
    by magster on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:32:09 PM EST
    came up with a theory as to why the bathroom door would be locked. Don't necessarily buy it, but it's enough for doubt.

    Reason being? (none / 0) (#14)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:36:05 PM EST
    Simple modesty?

    OP was yelling for GF to call emergency... (none / 0) (#15)
    by magster on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:40:05 PM EST
    ... She was afraid of intruders after OP was yelling.

    I thought this was (and still is) a big flaw in OP's believability. At least his lawyers saw this and addressed it.


    Yet (none / 0) (#17)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:57:36 PM EST
    she failed to yell back?...hmm.

    witnesses who claim to have heard arguing at the OP home very shortly before shooting. The sum of everything so far does not bode well for OP's story, imo.

    Well - Jeralyn's notes (none / 0) (#19)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:47:20 PM EST
    Have these wtinesses as being 600m away...I think that distance cast some doubt on their veracity...

    However (none / 0) (#21)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:49:57 PM EST
    I think the "argument" scenario on the whole seems much more plausible... Arguing/fighting/shouting....Reeva may know he has a gun, is scared and flees to bathroom and locks herself in. OP loses his minds and starts shooting.

    It would be a very common tale. Sadly.

    But I guess we'll have to see how much reasonable doubt the D can establish. Sounds like they shredded the Prosecution's 24-yr detective yesterday.

    I sure hope we're not looking at a S African OJ....


    I think that's been amended to 300m, (none / 0) (#22)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 02:52:21 PM EST
    although that's still pretty far.

    However, the witness(es?) have not yet told their side of the story in court. As OP has shown us, doing that can makes a big difference.


    YEah (none / 0) (#24)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:04:21 PM EST
    Dunno. I am neither a lawyer nor have experience in home invasions....

    I just usually opt for the simplest, most common explanation, with least need for suspension of disbelief...and I think the argument/Reeva flees/OP loses it scenario is most typical.

    But if the prosecution got off to apparently this horrible of a start, who knows what will happen now.


    Re forensics (none / 0) (#12)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:28:06 PM EST
    May not be recalling this right - but did he not say he was on stumps when shooting?

    I'd hope that forensics could give a good re-creation of where the shots came from, and what height or near height they originated....

    That could cast doubt on his claim he was on stumps when firing.

    ANyway - I still find it hard to accept he would proceed on stumps some 20-30 feet PAST the nearest exit, to confront an intruder.  

    According to Mr. Botha, the angle ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:17:52 PM EST
    ... of the bullets was downwards "from a normal stance," which would indicate that the defendant had his prosthetics on and was standing at a normal height when firing his weapon.

    That said, I'm really not sure if Pistorius first said that he was on his stumps when he opened fire, but the defense claims that the trajectory of the bullets hitting the toilet is entirely consistent with the defendant's version of events.


    This is merely the bail hearing (none / 0) (#25)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:10:53 PM EST
    It's not the trial. I think it's a wee bit early for people to be making judgments regarding Oscar Pistorius' innocence or guilt.

    I do find it strange, though, that Pistorius was so concerned about an apparent intruder having entered the second-story bathroom through its (quite) small window, yet he admitted that his balconey doors were wide open that night. Inconsistent, but certainly not unexplainable.

    Check the floor plan (none / 0) (#30)
    by smott on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:18:42 PM EST
    2 windows -one apparently fairly large in main bath, the other quite small in the toilet. I am not even sure what OP was asserting re intruder coming in a window. He could not see the toilet window as door was closed. He could see the main window. Which would presumably mean his account was the "intruder" came in the large window and then went in the toilet and locked the door.

    yes there are two windows (none / 0) (#31)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:27:18 PM EST
    in the bathroom, I links to the photos of the windows in the post. The Sun warns against reprinting them, so you need to use their links, here and here.

    I am quite sure you mean that the defense (none / 0) (#28)
    by Peter G on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 04:40:28 PM EST
    is "disassembling" (taking apart) the prosecution case, not "dissembling" (being less than forthright) about it!

    you are correct (none / 0) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:08:36 PM EST
    thanks, I just changed dissembled to disassembled.

    Just trying to stay ahead of Anne (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by Peter G on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:30:17 PM EST
    as self-appointed site proofreader!

    Heh (none / 0) (#37)
    by bmaz on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:31:02 PM EST
    I don't know about (none / 0) (#32)
    by DebFrmHell on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:27:24 PM EST
    his guilt or innocence. The whole thing seems kind of hinky TO ME.

    But every time I have seen him break into sobs in court, I am reminded of Susan Smith.

    the actual floor plans (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:35:12 PM EST
    are here

    Note that these are construction plans, (none / 0) (#34)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:45:34 PM EST
    they are not as-builts.

    iow, what was actually built can differ from the floor plans in your link.

    For example, the floor plans show a toilet room with a toilet bowl, only, on the left-hand wall as you enter the toilet room. But the pictures of the toilet room show a sink in addition to the toilet bowl.

    And, according to this link, the toilet bowl is not on the left-hand wall, instead it's on the wall straight ahead as you enter the toilet room, with the sink on the right-hand wall.